The Great Dane, one of the world’s tallest dog breeds, is a large German breed of domestic dog. The dog is famous for its enormous body, and its great height. The German name for the dog is Deutsche Dogge (German Mastiff). The nobility in many countries of Europe imported strong, long-legged dogs from England in the middle of the 16th century. The dogs were descended from cross breeds between the Irish Wolfhound, and the English Mastiff. The dogs were hybrid types in different sizes and phenotypes and had no formal breed. They were called Englische Docke or Englische Tock. Later it was written and spelled Dogge or Englischer Hund in Germany, and meant “English Dog”. These dogs were used for hunting deer, boar, and bear at princely courts. The favorites would stay the night in the bedchambers of their lords, and were fitted with gilded collars and helped to protect princes from assassins. In the 19th century the dog was known as “German Boarhound” in those English speaking countries. Because some German Breeders felt like the dog should have been marketed as a dog of luxury, rather than a working dog, some tried to change the name to introduce the names “German dogge” or “German Mastiff”. The dog later became “Great Dane”, due to the increase in tension between Germany and other countries.
When looking at the ratio between its length and height, the dog should be square. The male’s height cannot be less than 30 in at the shoulders, while the female should not be 28 in. The standard minimum weight for the breed is 120 lbs for males, and 100 lbs for females. The male should have a larger frame and heavier bone than the female. The Great Dane has floppy, triangular ears. The Great Dane has three color varieties with 5-6 show acceptable coat colors; fawn and brindle, harlequin, black, mantle and blue.
Despite the breed’s large and imposing appearance, it has a friendly nature and is often referred to as the “gentle giant”. They are well known for seeking physical affection with their owners. Generally the dog is well disposed towards other animals, familiar humans, and other dogs. Generally they do not show extreme aggressiveness, or a high prey drive. With proper care and training, the Great Dane is great around children as he is a very loving and gentle dog. Early socialization will help prevent the Dane from becoming fearful or aggressive towards new stimuli (ex. Stranger and new environments).
Because of its size this breed has a fairly slow metabolism, which results in less energy and less food consumption. They have some health issues that are common to all large breeds of dog which include, bloat, and hip dyslapsia. Dilated cardiomyopathy is also common with the breed. The average life span of the dog is 6-8 years, but some have been known to reach 10 years or more.